Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write CONTEMPORARY FICTION (10/30/14)
- TITLE: The perfect crimson dress
By Ellen Carr
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Barbara picked her accent as Russian. She have liked to get to know her, but obviously Nadia was not interested in being a friend. Whenever Barbara walked by she busied herself with something or looked the other way. Barbara would have persisted, despite Nadia's trashy outfits and painted-on eyebrows, despite her too tight skirts and stiletto heels, but it was a one way street.
Nadia was a tailor. Barbara had seen her little shop on Selby Road. A couple of dresses were hanging in the window and a sign said 'Clothes Made or Altered'.
“I won't take things there to be mended,” Barbara told Kylie, her daughter.“If she won't talk to me I won't give my business to her.”
Kylie was in her final year of school. Apart from exams, she had one thing on her mind – the end-of-year formal. This was no ordinary dance event, no ordinary party. This was the grand finale to her schooling. Some girls spent a fortune on their dresses and then more on professional make up and having their nails done.
Kylie was determined to look her most stunning. Barbara had trawled the shops with her for the most perfect crimson dress and cream shoes. Kylie wanted to get her outfit organised well ahead so she could concentrate on her final exams. Every now and then she took the dress out and tried it on. Now she had her head down, studying, and the dress hadn't seen the light of day for two months.
~ ~ ~
Barbara worried about Kylie. She was very single-minded and sometimes, around exam time, she hardly seemed to eat. It was no use urging her to eat more; she just said she didn't feel like much food.
She was shaken out of her thoughts as the doorbell rang. It was Nadia, from next door, looking quite upset.
“Sorry to bother you,” she said, “But I've locked myself out, and my mobile phone is locked inside too. Can I please use your phone to ring for help?” Barbara noticed again her thick Russian accent, and her skimpy skirt.
“Yes. Come in. Of course you can use our phone. And you can wait here till someone comes to help with the lock.”
“Thank you,” said Nadia. She rang a locksmith. “He'll be here in about an hour.”
“Sit down and I'll make some coffee.” offered Barbara.
“That's very kind, thank you.” Nadia's broad smile surprised Barbara. Soon she was hearing about Nadia's life in Russia and why she had left.
“It's not easy learning a new language. And I am sometimes lonely here.”
Barbara was re-evaluating her with each sentence. So Nadia was finding it difficult to adjust to life in Australia. And it was clear that she was shy.
'I don't want to be too pushy,” thought Barbara, “but I want to build on this start.”
“I have some pants that need taking up,” she said. “Can I bring them to your shop?”
“No, no,” Nadia said. “I'll fix them at home. You have helped me today. I want to help you.”
~ ~ ~
The exams came and went and Barbara heaved a sigh of relief as Kylie hoed into milkshakes and ice-creams again. This was the week of the formal so Kylie took out her beautiful dress and tried it on.
“Mum!” she yelled. “My dress doesn't fit! It's too big! What can I do? It's only two days till the formal!”
Barbara raced into Kylie's room. The dress would need taking in around the top and perhaps at the waist too. Kylie was distraught.
“I can't go! This is a disaster!” Kylie was sobbing now.
“I know what!” Barbara yelled it. “Nadia! I'll ask Nadia if she can alter it for you.”
“Nadia? Isn't she the tart that lives next door, the one who won't speak to you? You said you wouldn't give your business to her. We can't ask her.”
“Oh, we're friends now. I'll explain later. Come on. We're going over to her place now. Leave the dress on.”
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